The Good Land: The Peculiar California of Jansson Stegner
Joan Didion once wrote "“California is a place in which a boom mentality and a sense of Chekhovian loss meet in uneasy suspension; in which the mind is troubled by some buried but ineradicable suspicion that things better work here, because here, beneath the immense bleached sky, is where we run out of continent.” I immediately thought of this when I was looking at the new works by Jansson Stegner and his show The Good Land at Nino Mier, and how the works depicted a sort of dark fantasy of a place of sun and, well, fantasy. Stegner has lived across the United States but now, in California, he has a particular ability to navigate a "good life" of sun and ocean and escape.
There was another quote that came to mind, one from Don DeLillo from White Noise that reads “California deserves whatever it gets. Californians invented the concept of life-style. This alone warrants their doom.” And again, Stegner's works have this sense of something lurking that isn't right, with peculiar body shapes that appear more subversive than Currin but just as off-putting. As the gallery notes about the works, "They are arresting precisely because they are destabilizing, their beauty and magic shining through Stegner’s uncanny creations." Quite like the state he now calls home. —Evan Pricco